linguistic movement in philosophy early on was deeplynpositivistic and anti-Christian; it has changed and grownnsince.nI am an optimist philosophically, a Christian in Faith, andnthe two meet, and I rejoice. One of our tasks is to make ournlanguage more adequate by thought, distinction, reflection,ncaring, love.nHere is a poem: “Each Day,” by Sister Maura.nHer face thins almostnas we watch. Bonesnseem larger—gratingnon pillow and sheetnlike shells on a ledgenof shore. We speaknmore simply in her presence:na primer of nounsnand verbs. She lets gonof life gently. Wenreceive from her handsnthe victory of belief,nlearning the meaning ofnour lives from our griefnMR. ELIOT’S DREAMS by Peter Laurien”Le reve est une seconde vie.n— NervalnT .S. Eliot has become so thoroughly exalted, especiallynamong conservative intellectuals, as the greatest poeticnavatar of Western civilization in modern times (a role henmust share, though, with Yeats and Pound) that it may shocknmany to notice the unmistakable oriental elements embeddednin even his most overtly Christian works. It happensnthese same elements also inform his early and patentlynanft’-Christian verse as well. Accordingly, I intend no slightnto the great traditions of the Christian West (neither didnEliot) by trying, in brief compass, to give some indication ofnwhere and what those elements are.nFirst, there is probably no better way to go desperatelynastray in the study of Eliot’s verse than to try to read hisnalmost absurdly conventional body of criticism into it.nUnfortunately, this is precisely what some, of this poet’snadmirers have done, producing an effect of dogmaticncertitude almost entirely at odds with the extremely disturbingntexture of Eliot’s poetic. Eliot, perhaps even more thannthe overtly atheistic modernists, is a poet of inconceivablendisruptions of traditional continuities, a quiet forewarner ofnunderstated Apocalypse, an afErmer of Christendom in thenface of its obvious collapse from within. Yet in this faithlessnage, Eliot became a poet of faith. And exposure tonextra-occidental influence had something to do with this.nWhen Thoreau broke the ice with Whitman in Manhattann(“You seem to have come under the influence of thenoriental philosophers” — a New Englandly transcendentalnremark if ever there was one). Whitman’s thoroughlynPeter Laurie is a poet and scholar whose work hasnappeared in Poetry, St. Andrews Review, and thenHarvard Advocate.nIn granting permission to republish some poems of hers.nSister Maura wrote me, “I’m glad that you chose ‘EachnDay.’ When I give a reader, or when readers comment onnthe book that it is in, it is that poem which they say is the onenthey remember. It is, I suspect, close to the humannheartache that, at some time, we all share.”nWhich is a lovely reply that virtually constitutes andefinition of religious poetry: poetry which speaks to ournhearts, gives light to our sorrow, and speaks true.nun-Harvard-Yardly reply was “Oh? Tell me about them!”nBy contrast, but in the same spirit of guileless grace, thensophisticated Mr. Eliot, who had studied a little Sanskrit atn”The Place” with Irving Babbitt, parried a late challengenthat his Christianity seemed a great deal more like Buddhismnwith, “Perhaps I’ve not been found out yet?” — annonchalance in keeping with his general disavowal of thenimportance of poetry itself (“Poetry is a mug’s game”).nnn^W^ris^ “-^n'”WnSEPTEMBER 1988/15n